BP, the London-based multinational oil and gas company, announced on its website that Murray Auchincloss, currently CFO, will assume the role of interim CEO following Bernard Looney’s abrupt resignation on Sept. 12. Looney notified the company of his resignation as CEO, and it has taken effect immediately.
Auchincloss assumes the interim role following a board review supported by external legal counsel of allegations relating to “Looney’s conduct in respect of personal relationships with company colleagues.” Looney had disclosed a “small number” of past relationships that predated his time as CEO, information that was made available via an anonymous source, according to the company. Despite the findings that there was no breach in the company’s code of conduct, Looney accepted his failure to provide proper transparency.
Auchincloss has spent nearly 24 years with BP, holding a variety of roles, including CFO of the Upstream business division, as well as BP’s North Sea operations. Auchincloss now faces the challenge of holding the oil and gas company steady as it puts in place an unanticipated succession plan amid growing questions about its overall governance and controls.
Looney is the third BP CEO to abruptly resign over the last two decades. In 2007, CEO John Browne left the company after a legal injunction was lifted which had prevented a newspaper from publishing details from Browne’s private life, as well as allegations he misused company resources. Browne’s successor, Tony Hayward, resigned in 2010 following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP’s announcement was made on the same day as Texas-based Orthofix announced its own CEO, CFO, and CLO had been terminated due to “inappropriate and offensive conduct,” and would rely on internal executives to fulfill interim duties, including Geoffrey Gillespie, as CFO.
In a similar fashion to BP, McDonald’s fired its CEO Steve Easterbrook in 2019 due to a consensual relationship with an employee that violated its company policy, a relationship Easterbrook referred to in an email to employees as a “mistake.”